Drop in Russian car sales this year to hurt Ford and GM's plan to return to profits in Europe

Russia's sinking economy is putting up a major hurdle for Ford Motor Co. and General Motors as the U.S. automakers fight to return to profitability in Europe after years of losses.

Karl-Thomas Neumann, CEO of GM's Adam Opel GmbH subsidiary, said at the Geneva auto show that the Russian market "is basically collapsing." He said sales there could fall this year to as low as 1.5 million. Last year, they were 2.5 million.

Neumann said Russia's downturn was "working in the wrong way" as the company tries to meet a goal of breaking even this year.

Ford of Europe head Jim Farley told reporters that Ford "made a lot of progress" in cutting losses in Europe through reducing factory capacity and strengthening the company's brand with new models.